Yesterday I went back to my personal trainer for the first time since almost having pneumonia. I was still coughing away, and I felt nervous. Normally he pushes me to the absolute max, pumping away on the stationery bike, or running through a hilly cemetery or walking the length of the gym like a spider. It's a killer. Just a few days ago, when I had a ton of gunk in my lungs, I wasn't able to cross the street or climb a flight of steps without panting.
So I approached the gym with a bit of trepidation. But things were feeling different. Instead of the blaring mega-funk that's usually going on in there, there was this soft, tinkly Asian music. My trainer was with another client, doing this amazingly graceful moves in tandem. It looked so cool, beautiful yet requiring a lot of strength. They kept this up for about ten minutes while I watched, all awestruck.
Then it was my turn. I apologized because I was wearing regular street clothes, and I didn't even have my sneakers. I'm always late for my sessions, and I've gained a reputation for that, which I hate. But when I'm at work it seems there's always one more thing to finish, one more phone call to make, one more email to answer, and before I know it, I'm late. I didn't have time to rush home and get my workout stuff, so I just drove straight to the gym. On time, maybe even a little early, but unprepared.
He said it was okay. He saw me standing there coughing, as weak as a mouse. He said, "We're going to do something different today." Fine by me. He started teaching me some of those flowing cool moves. Oooh! It was not easy. I am not the world's most coordinated person. I'm probably in the lowest 5th percentile of people who are not actually disabled. But I pressed on. The pretty music was still playing. It was the greatest feeling. I could feel my lungs opening up, my muscles getting some blood back into them, my joints oiling up for the first time in weeks. Boy, it felt good. But he wasn't killing me.
I learned about three or four of these movement patterns. It was great. Then I asked, "What IS this that we're doing?" And he said, "Kung fu." I nearly fell on the mat laughing. "You're kidding!"
Of course I flashed right back to the 70's TV show with fake-Asian David Carradine. My family and I were absolute devotees of that show, because a show with fake Asians is better than one with no Asians at all. And anyway, he was playing a hapa, which made my little heart go pitter-pat. Plus, it had an actor in it called Robert Ito (who later played a major role on the Quincy show with Jack Klugman), and watching the credits roll was always a thrill.
Then my teacher said, "Running is kung fu. Your writing is kung fu. Anything that you do with purpose and effort and skill is kung fu." A ha. I almost expected him to place his hand on my head and call me Grasshopper, but he didn't.
Whatever it was, I could use more of it. It was way cool. And the perfect way to return to the land of the living after the past few weeks.